Nursing professionals have become empowered to make decisions and question decisions of other healthcare professionals as well as policy makers (Frey & Murphy, 2017). This empowerment has led to significant transformations of the profession and nursing professionals. I believe an effective nurse cannot simply focus on fulfilling a number of clinical tasks. Nursing professionals should be advocates and activists. Being an advocate and activist means being “sensitive to the healthcare needs of the vulnerable individual, family, or community, in addition to having a broad knowledge of community resources” (Bushy, 2014, p. 673).
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I think nurses are the most knowledgeable healthcare professionals in this respect as they are in a close contact with patients and their close ones. Nurses are healthcare professionals who spend a lot of time with patients and often know a lot about their needs and concerns. This knowledgeability, as well as patient trust, oblige nurses to be advocates and activists.
I also think that nurses have the necessary tools to bring the needs of patients or vulnerable groups (as well as communities) to the fore. Nursing professionals know the healthcare system from inside and tend to see its weakness and gaps, as well as opportunities and resources. They also have access to agencies and organizations that have the necessary resources and experience to draw the public’s and officials’ attention to various issues.
Two cases can be regarded as proper illustrations of the role nursing professionals can play in people’s lives. In Barbara Howe’s case, I, being a nurse/advocate would definitely focus on the patient’s needs. I would try to terminate her suffering as the patient made it absolutely clear that the loss of basic abilities (talking, responding and so on) was the justification of turning the ventilator off. Perhaps, nursing professionals could have been more active and communicated with the patient’s daughter more effectively.
It was vital to provide sufficient evidence concerning Howe’s health condition. It could be effective to attract other healthcare professionals (from other facilities or even research centers). It could also be helpful to encourage Howe’s daughter to talk to a psychotherapist who could help the daughter understand desires and needs of her mother. Finally, it could be beneficial to attract public attention to the case, which could encourage Howe’s daughter to focus on her mother’s needs and desires.
Similar actions could be undertaken to address the other case. Clearly, the case of Terri Schiavo extends the boundaries of patient needs and is somewhat political and ethical. Being a nurse/advocate, I believe that all people have the right to access to high-quality healthcare services.
However, when it is clear that these services will not lead to any positive results, it is necessary to stop the provision of such services. The health conditions of Schiavo were examined by many professionals, and no error could be possible. Therefore, the termination of the provision of services to Schiavo was the most appropriate option. It is possible to understand the patient’s husband who hoped that his wife could pull through. An experienced psychotherapist could help the man let his wife go.
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On balance, it is necessary to note that nursing professionals are advocates and activists who can improve the healthcare system and public health. Nurses should be properly trained and empowered to advocate for patients’ needs and rights. I believe I can make a difference being a nurse/advocate.
Bushy, A. (2014). Vulnerability in community populations: An overview. In K. S. Lundy (Ed.), Community health nursing (pp. 659-679). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Frey, J. L., & Murphy, C. K. (2017). Healthcare policy and advocacy. In G. Roux & J. A. Halstead (Eds.), Issues and trends in nursing (pp. 393-425). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.